The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Air tragedy ties north and south

May 6: One hundred and five passengers from 20 countries and 15 Indians, of which four are from two Kerala families — the Kenya Airways crash has sent shock-waves far and wide.

Capping a day of conflicting reports, Kenyan state radio said late tonight that the Boeing 737-800 has been found in swamps southeast of Cameroon’s Douala airport. The radio did not mention casualties or survivors.

Through the day, relatives of the passengers swung between hope and despair. One of them is Parle boss Ramesh Chauhan, whose 28-year-old nephew Amol was on the flight.

In Delhi, Ramesh Chauhan didn’t want to share his nephew’s photograph yet, not till the final confirmation arrives. Amol, a Parle director and marksman, was returning to Nairobi, en route to Mumbai, from a business trip in Cameroon.

Amol had recently got married, and his wife is expecting their first child.

Chauhan — who created the Thums-Up brand before selling it to Coca-Cola — is caught in a vortex of emotions. One question troubling him is whether he should have allowed Amol to go on the trip. “Don’t ask me much. God performs miracles in many ways,” he said over phone, the cackle of TV audible in the background.

Chauhan says he and his brother Sharad — Amol’s father and Parle’s MD — are still hoping their loved one might have survived. “Anuj Sehgal, a senior executive, is in Cameroon. I am watching TV reports. They say they have found the plane. But Amol may have survived.” Arup, Amol’s elder brother, has also left for Nairobi.

The ministry of external affairs identified the following Keralites on a list of 14 Indians released earlier in the day: Kocheri George Joseph, 59, his wife Maria Joseph, 53, Kevin Joseph, 55, wife Shirly Nigli, 52, Nalakathu Gireesh, 58, Mary Ruby Paul and Immanuel Gracy.

The list of passengers has three other names that suggest they could be from the same family. The names are Madhusudhan, Bhagya Madhusudhan and Poojitha Madhusudhan.

Ajith Koladi, the president of the South Indian Association in Cameroon, told a local channel he believed the Madhusudhans had roots in Kerala.

Kevin Joseph, a southern Kerala native has been working on a Cameroon tea estate since he left home two years back. The Niglis were coming to their sons in Bangalore. Elton, Kevin’s nephew, said the family had not received any official confirmation. “Our information has been limited to what we are watching on TV. My dad has left for Coimbatore, where relatives will meet on what to do next.”

Nalakathu Gireesh, from Thalassery in Kannur district, was expected home on Sunday for a family function. “My dad’s friend had called us to say he had boarded the flight. We were preparing to receive him when the TV channels broke the news,” said son Nitin. Details about Mary Ruby Paul, who hailed from Kottayam, and Emmanuel Gracy, were not immediately available.

Overseas Indian affairs minister Vayalar Ravi told Kerala-based TV channels in Delhi that the Centre would make arrangements to fly relatives to Nairobi.

In the Kenyan capital, there were many who hadn’t given up. “The plane could have crash-landed and there could be people waiting to be rescued. That is giving us hope,” Bernard Kadurenge, brother of missing flight attendant Cyprian Kadurenge, said. Kadurenge was one of the nine crew members on board.

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